Knowing how to prioritize work is a necessary ability for all pupils. Students who understand how to prioritize chores and obligations have an advantage over their counterparts who approach homework and studying haphazardly. Prioritization helps students be organized and efficient while completing schoolwork, studying, doing household tasks, and participating in social and extracurricular activities.
Prioritizing tasks and duties is a lifetime skill. Prioritization, like any ability, improves with practice and can be taught at any age.
What Exactly Are Prioritization Skills?
Prioritization abilities assist students in determining which tasks are the most critical and urgent, as well as how much time to devote to each work. Students who understand prioritizing things are more productive because they better use their time.
Prioritization is a skill of executive functioning. Executive functioning refers to the abilities required to plan, organize, focus, and follow directions. Time management and organization are two organizational functioning abilities.
The art of prioritizing
Create a list or matrix
Students may list activities and prioritize them based on urgency and significance with adequate planning, allowing order to emerge from the chaos and minimizing “analysis paralysis,” which raises stress and diminishes productivity.
Students should spend some time each day outlining their academic assignments and other activities, followed by identifying the chores that require their immediate attention. This may be as easy for younger kids as generating a to-do list and giving a priority number to each item on the list using the Ivy Lee Prioritization Template. Students then work on the most important task first, followed by the second most essential assignment, and down the list.
More advanced students can use more sophisticated priority techniques, such as a prioritization matrix. A prioritizing index, often known as the Eisenhower Matrix, employs a simple table to rank activities in order of priority and urgency, as seen below:
Urgent and vital tasks should be completed first. Once these duties are completed, students can proceed to acute but not essential chores, followed by important but not urgent tasks. When the student has less pressing responsibilities, they can finish tasks that are neither urgent nor significant.
Adjust Your Expectations
When you feel like you’re being pushed in a million different ways, something as basic as regulating your expectations might help. In other words, be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a given amount of time. Sometimes your to-do list may be so extensive that it will be impossible to cross everything off. What is the solution? Remove anything from your to-do list that is not urgent or pressing or cannot be completed that day. Add them to your must-do list for tomorrow. Rather than focusing your attention on this, direct it into finishing what you can now. This will leave you feeling empowered at the end of each day.
Distractions must be avoided.
How much time do you spend on social media, surfing the web, or watching your new favorite show? It’s easy to believe that all of one’s precious time in the day is being spent wisely. Still, a recent survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on how American workers spend their time revealed that surveyed individuals spent more than 3 hours per day watching TV rather than focusing on completing projects from their lengthy to-do lists. While taking a break from your next school or job task is crucial, try to set out tiny, focused periods away from the times of day when you may be most effective. So, switch off the TV and put your phone in a safe place.
Concentrate on Your High-Value Activities (HVAs)
High-value activities are those in which you should spend most of your time. Of course, pinpointing precisely what those are on a particular day or week might be tricky. A bright place to start is to ask yourself which activities help you get closer to your goals. If acquiring your master’s degree is one of your main goals, then anything related to getting that credential should be on your list of HVAs once you’ve determined your HVAs, schedule time in your day to work on them, even if it’s only for an hour.
Work Prioritization Strategies
- Remember the Pareto Principle while prioritizing activities. According to the Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule, you obtain 80% of your outcomes from 20% of your efforts. Students should prioritize actions that produce meaningful, long-term effects or advance them toward a long-term goal.
- Make sure that each assignment has a defined deadline. Use a student planner to set aside time each morning for prioritizing. When in doubt, begin with the minor fun work, as having it out of the way will create an incentive for following projects.
- Priorities should be reevaluated regularly as circumstances change. Avoid the “sunk cost fallacy” of continuing jobs or activities that have reduced in urgency or relevance due to evolving circumstances.
Prioritizing for planning helps students analyze the sequence in which they will approach aspects of more extensive work and which areas should receive the most significant effort and thinking.
Tips for teachers and parents
Allow students to make their own prioritization decisions and experience the repercussions of failing to accomplish goals by the deadlines they establish. Follow this up with metacognitive coaching and an opportunity for revision to learn from their mistakes. Scaffold their prioritization network development by having them estimate, track their progress, and adjust their plans when they fail to hit their interval goalposts. Planning instruction and teaching units that stimulate executive function processing takes time, which is already scarce for teachers and students. That time, however, is a tremendous investment as kids develop their executive functions to become self-directed learners who can prioritize, plan, and endure with the foresight to attain long-term goals.
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